* * *


I don't feel like I have to explain myself. I hope you understand.

* * *

I Am Allergic to Work

But really, I am. In all seriousness.

I have had allergies for a long time. Seasonal ones. This Spring, they haven't been so bad.
That is, until I started working in props.
Guaranteed two minutes after sitting down at my desk in props I will be sneezing and itching my eyes. There may not be a dustier locale outside of the Sahara.
But it's okay, I love it.

(The job, not the allergies.)

Soundtrack to Summer

I cannot get enough of this song:

You! Me! Dancing!--Los Campesinos!

Or these:

Young Bride--Midlake

Vampiring Again--Califone

Burning--The Whitest Boy Alive

The Great Salt Lake--Band of Horses

None of these are new by any means, but have a listen and enjoy all the same!

Archive: 7.24.07

Blind baby hummingbird my grandfather found on the lawn after the rain.

Before he got up close enough, he remarked "What a big bug!" only to realize after bending down to see that it was in fact a small bird.

He brought it inside to live on the kitchen table and bought a hummingbird feeder shaped like a hot air ballon. (which the bird will perch on, but won't drink from) So he feeds it maple syrup on a toothpick which it laps up with it's long, flitting, silvery tongue. Also nectar drops from a straw.

When we walked in, the little bird was on it's back, wings sprawled, tiny feathered chest lightly heaving in and out. But grandpa picked it up and set it down carefully on the perch. It shivered and trembled it's needle beak in the air looking for something to feel before grandfather touched the toothpick to it's mouth.

Apparently, hummingbirds eat every 15 minutes and at any given moment they are only hours away from starvation.
Their wings can beat up to 80 times per minute and and their heart rates have been clocked at over 1,000 beats per minute.
--They are, in essence, little sugar and blood pumps with wings...burning, beating, breathing...

Sometimes I think I'd like a pet hummingbird--but then I cannot imagine few things that would be more cruel than clipping the wings of a hummingbird.

Memorial Day

Five years ago on May 1st, 2003 President Bush made a historic speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared that the majority of combat operations in Iraq were over.

"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

96% of casualties among coalition forces, Iraqi combatants, and civilians, have occured after this declaration was made.

Behind him was a large banner with the words:
Mission Accomplished

We are now in the fifth year of a war that has turned out to be longer than WWII--Longer than any American involvement in a war except for Vietnam. This war is also the longest war fought by volunteer reserves since the Revolutionary War. It has also proven to be an extremely costly war...

"The Iraq war has already cost twice as much, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as World War I..."

(Before the war) "President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that it might reach $200 billion all told, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the estimate as “baloney.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz went as far as to suggest that Iraq’s postwar reconstruction would pay for itself through increased oil revenues.
Rumsfeld... estimated the total cost of the war in the range of $50 to $60 billion, some of which they believed would be financed by other countries."

"For fiscal year 2008 the administration has asked for nearly $200 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"

And that's just 2008.

"As the total passed US$450 billion, the cost for the Iraq war reached approximately $1500 per person in the United States.[9] If the Iraq war were to wind up costing 1.9 trillion dollars, the cost would be over 4.2 times higher ($6,300 per United States citizen.) This would put the expense at $25,000 for an average family of four, or $32,000 per family if Afghanistan is included.

As a comparison, with this money he estimates[9] that one could have:

built 8 million houses

paid 15 million teachers

paid for the child care of 530 million kids

paid for the scholarship of 43 million students

offered Social Security during 50 year to Americans.

Stiglitz also said that United States help for Africa (an entire continent) is only $5 billion (per year), soon to be superseded by China.

$5 billion corresponds to the spending of only 10 days in Iraq by the United States."

That is to say nothing of the absolutely staggering and inestimable cost of human lives on both sides of the war.

4,000 American troops killed.

30,000 American soldiers wounded.

73,000 civilian bystanders killed.

Upwards of 600,000 Iraqi deaths due to lack of healthcare, starvation, displacement, etc.

Depending on the survey you look at, total deaths resulting from the war range from 150,000 to 1,300,000.

1 in 5 troops returning home will suffer from serious emotional/mental trauma.

That is at least 36,000 former soldiers who will suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, alcoholism, become abusive to family members, or commit suicide.


Is this all because Iraq posed a threat to our national security?

Nope. Weapons of mass destruction were never found. It was concluded that Iraq had ceased it's illegal weapons program in 1991.

Was it because Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

No again. Saddam Hussein held no ties to Al Qaeda.

Excerpted from a press conference August 21, 2006:

Pres. Bush: "Now, look, I -- part of the reason we went into Iraq: was -- the main reason we went into Iraq: at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't.

...Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of a world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

...The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East. They were --"

Reporter: "What did Iraq have to do with that?"

BUSH: "What did Iraq have to do with what?"

Reporter: "The attack on the World Trade Center."

BUSH: "Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody's ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.

Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq."

. . .

Even if Iraq had been responsible for 9/11, the math just doesn't add up.
Terrorists kill 3,000 citizens--so we decide to send 4,000 more of our troops to die and end up killing more than 70,000 innocent Iraqi civilians? All in the name of bringing down a country that in the end had nothing to do with the attacks? That does not make sense to me.

Are we in Iraq "fighting for our freedom"? Are we afraid that a disabled and destroyed country who cannot even provide basic healthcare, and in many cases shelter or sustenance for it's people should want to rise up and come halfway around the world in an attempt to conquer us?
Is it really necessary for us to spend an incomprehensible sum of blood and treasure to occupy Iraq for another 100 years as John McCain has suggested?

I think not.

This memorial day, we should honor and remember the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country and our freedoms.

We should honor them by promising them and ourselves that the country they fought for was not a country that was fought for in vain.

We can honor and remember them by putting an end to this war that has caused so much unecessary horror and bloodshed.

We can honor them by promising them that we will do our very best not to send more of their brothers to die on our behalves in an unjust war.

This is, after all, a life and death situation.

This is not theoretical.

Hundreds of thousands have already died.

It's time to put a stop to this madness.


We can choose to forget the mistakes of our past and the sacrifices of our forebearers and send more of our own (and others) into the carnage.

The choice is yours.

Reviews: 5.20.08

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time
Last October I was blown away by the beauty of Director Thomas Riedelsheimer's portrait of deaf percussionist Glennie Evelyn in Touch the Sound.
It was only after I was about ten minutes into Rivers and Tides that I realized I was watching another Riedelshiemer piece--his style is distinct and unmistakeable. I've never seen another director use visual symbolism and metaphor like he does--and in unscripted documentaries nonetheless. In Rivers and Tides we see Riedelsheimer's unique penchant for visual storytelling paired perfectly with an examination of earth artist Andy Goldsworthy's creative genius.
I've always been facinated by Andy Goldsworthy's work and have often wondered what his working methods and creative processes were like, and Rivers and Tides gave a satisfyingly unique insight into Goldsworthy's M.O.
This film, like Touch the Sound, was a meditation on one invidual's relationship with their art form and captured well the sometimes elusive language of Goldsworthy's artistic expressions.
But like any meditation, this one requires a good amount of patience and concentration to fully appreciate.
Definitely recommended if you are a fan of Goldsworthy, but check out Touch the Sound first if you're just in the mood for a good documentary--it is without doubt, the better of the two Riedelsheimer pieces.

Here's a short clip from the film:

V for Vendetta

This one came out while I was on my mission and I've heard nothing but raves about how good it was. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed after all that hype.
But there were a lot of things I did like about the film. I thought Natalie Portman gave a strong showing in a demanding role--I was not blown away by any means and there were times when I just couldn't believe her character, but I think a lot of that was mediocre scripting.
John Hurt was an excellent Facist Chancellor--perfect role for him.
Production value and Art Direction were wonderful and provided a rich backdrop for the story.
The action scenes were very well choreographed and masterfully captured. I loved the way that the graphic novel influence was really emphasized in everything from the angle choices to the colors and framing.
I liked the message of the movie: That people must take responsibility for their systems of government. That ideas can be bulletproof and that a system has only as much power as it's people give it.
What I did not love was the way in which this message was delivered. It felt like fighting fire with fire. The film was an anti-propaganda propaganda piece.
I felt at many times manipulated or backed into a corner so that I could be force fed a plot twist. (the whole situation with Evey and the prison is a perfect example of this) I think the characters of the story had great potential, but in the end came out nearly as flat as the comic book pages they were printed on--no real growth, very little nuance, less than believable choices and motivations. I don't know whether to attribute this deficiency to a poorly written graphic novel on which the film was based, or to a mediocre adaptation from book to screen.
In any case, I didn't believe a lot of the things that the characters did or understand why they did them. The whole thing could have been so much less didactic.
In the end, I liked it, but wish that the writer and director had trusted their audience more to come to intelligent conclusions on their own, instead of force feeding them a pre-packaged product.

Rocket Science
Roger Ebert gave this film three and a half stars. The packaging promised that the film was in the tradition of Wes Anderson's Rushmore. For the most part, I trust Roger Ebert and I love Rushmore, so how could I go wrong?

Or so I thought. While I can see why this film garnered high praise from many critics and a Best Director award at Sundance, Writer/Director Jeffrey Blitz will not be the next Wes Anderson, and here's why:
As far as individual scenes go, this was a brilliantly written film. The dialogue was smart, witty and beautifully fitted to the wonderful characters portrayed by a well cast ensemble. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments and poignant realizations.
So why did this film turn out to be utterly mediocre? For one simple reason: Jeffrey Blitz has no knack for storytelling. I was sorely disappointed by the way the characters were handled and the situations resolved. And this was super frustrating because I really did like the characters and the individual scenes--but the overarching storyline was a kick in the groin.
Some stories are worth telling and some are not. The stories that are worth telling are told over and over again and survive the test of time while those that are not will inevitably perish regardless of how beautifully they are filmed or how true to life the dialogue is.
This story ended up being about how frustrating life is and how few things are ever truly resolved; about how in spite of lots of hard work and immense efforts, sometimes people can't achieve their goals. It was about the inability to communicate and the inability to learn. And while many of those statements are often true in real life, those aren't the kind of stories that I enjoy hearing--again, not because there isn't truth in them, but because the values and lessons in those stories aren't values that I share.
BUT if you don't mind open-ended stories and disappointing outcomes, you will in all seriousness enjoy this film and I would recommend it to you. It's worth watching just to enjoy the brilliantly written dialogue and fine acting if you are interested.
It's just not my cup of tea.

Summer Loving

Summer has been very good to me thus far. Highlights include:

-Watching Va Savoir while Lia and Nichole slept. Then having a vigorous conversation til four in the morning after they woke up while the credits were rolling.

-Driving around a lot with the windows down listening to music.

-Watching movies about East Germany in the 80's with Clark and Amy two nights in a row.

-Guerilla Gardening with Ashley and Regan and Davey and Lia and Clark and Andrew etc.

-Sleeping with the window open.

-Having outdoor movie night with Lia and Weston and Regan and Rachel!

-Not having to go to class.

-Enjoying a great meeting of the Modern Mythologists with Clark and Amy and Britt and Haley and Joel and Kyle...

...followed by a campout with Kyle and Andrew and Amy!

-My new job where I actually get paid to do be creative. (But only slightly. Mostly I get paid to be a pack-rat and a list keeper...)

-My teaching job where I actually get paid to dress up like a pirate (which I actually kind of hated...totally ridiculous. (But it did produce humorous results--as pictured below) I know it sounds like a cop out, but it's for the kids...)

(Believe you me, the only thing more fun than having to glue a beard on your face is having to find a way to unglue it. Very unpleasant. Especially without beard glue remover...)

-Stargazing with Nathalie and Lia and Caitlin and Weston!

-Longboarding with Jaclyn.

-Being able to sleep in on occasion.

-Lia and Dina's Garden Dinner Birthday Party!

-John Kovalenko's Senior Recital

-Knowing that I'm going to England again!

-Picnic on a beautiful day with Lia and Weston!

More Please!


It has occurred to me that when I use my electric razor, I am in fact mowing my face.

Small Victories

I've almost finished my first "year" as a youth theatre instructor. I started back in September and my last class is on Friday--it's been a real challenge at times but it's also turned out to be an intensely rich and rewarding experience.
I teach two classes: One for first through third grade, and one for fourth through sixth.

I really had a hard time at first with my older class because I was stepping in as a pseudo replacement teacher--I say pseudo because I wasn't really replacing him per se, he was still around but only came by to teach once or twice during the first semester.
This did not sit well with the kids. They loved him! (and for good reason too, he is a fantastic teacher and is super good with the kids) In their eyes I could never possibly measure up.
At first I was just pissed. I had at least three kids come up to me every class and ask "where was Josh?", and "when was he coming back?" On the exterior I was cool as a cucumber as I would tell them that I did not know, but that perhaps next week he would be there. On the inside I was a little hurt to be honest that these kids didn't seem to want to give me a chance.
Then came the "That's not how Josh did it" and "Josh would have let us do this" etc.

In any case, the transition was perhaps most difficult for a child that for the sake of anonymity we'll just call "John".
Let me back up, John wasn't in class during my first week of teaching and I thought
"Wow, this class is great! They are so well behaved! This is going to be easier than I thought!"
The second week, John shows up and all hell breaks loose.
It was like throwing a firecracker in to a barrel of gunpowder. This kid was a serious instigator of chaos. He would crack inappropriate jokes in the middle of our lessons and send the class into hysterics. Sometimes he would refuse to participate in class activities or exercises, preferring instead to lie on the ground in the middle of the room or yell out distracting comments. Often, he'd make snide or downright mean remarks about other kids in front of everyone else and cause some real commotion. Not conducive to a good learning environment especially when the kids are learning to put themselves on the line as performers.
And to make mattters worse, John made it very clear to me that he did not respect me and was just waiting until Josh came back.

Long story short, I've worked really hard all year to try to make each child in the class feel like they are valued. I've tried my best to be patient and be sensitive to the individual needs of each child. And I think it's paid off!

It helped immensely that Josh came back to co-teach during the second semester. He is great to work with and it helped the kids to see that we were really all on the same page and on the same team.

Our final show of the year was tonight, and after the performance, John came and found me and gave me a hug. That meant a lot to me.

He is a great kid who I think faces some unique challenges, but has a lot of great talent and underneath he's got a heart of gold. I think we've come to understand and respect one another over the course of the year and I would love to have him in my class again. I never thought I'd say that. I think we've both grown a lot.

It's the little things like that that make me wonder if I shouldn't go in to teaching.

Second Chances

I think the real appeal of reincarnation lies not in the prospect of endless lives, but in second chances.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a change of religions, but I can definitely see the draw.
Who hasn't wanted a second chance at one point or another?

Review: Three Euros and a Yankee

Va Savoir (or Who Knows?)
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this movie--the box labeled it as a "farce" and "fiercely comical" while also claiming to be an intellectual romantic comedy.
Turns out it was very little, if any, of those things.
Camille is an actress in Ugo's struggling theatre troupe. They are performing a series of Italian plays in Paris. Ugo meets Do, a gorgeous blond, while searching for a lost play manuscript by the deceased author of the plays they are performing.
Meanwhile, Camille visits Pierre, her former lover, who invites both Ugo and Camille over for dinner with his wife, Sonia.
Turns out Do's brother Arthur is having an affair with Pierre's wife Sonia while Pierre decides that he wants Camille back in his life...
It gets even more convoluted from there, and I'll spare you the confusing details so you can see it for yourself if you like--but realize that you're really going to have to read very carefully while watching this film to get a grip on what's going on.
The acting was really wonderful, everything you'd expect from Director Jacques Rivette, who allows his actors to explore and improvise on set. There were moments so organic and fluid that I forgot I was watching actors--the subtitles became unnecessary because everything that needed to be communicated in the moment came across beautifully.
On the flip side, this movie was far from what it claimed to be--perhaps some of the humor was lost in translation? Some of the situations were quite clever and amusing, but overall, this was not a laugh out loud funny film. Maybe I should learn French?
Another thing that sets this movie apart was the fact that it went almost entirely without a soundtrack. That's difficult work for a director and more importantly, the audience. A soundtrack helps cue us in on how we should feel and react to what's going on and what we should expect. A good soundtrack can also help immensely with the timing and flow of the film. At well over two hours, (154 min.) this film could have benefited a lot from a good score. The quiet, sometimes nearly dialog-free scenes were wonderfully naturalistic, but I would have loved the addition of a score to help keep and direct my attention.
Final verdict: Va Savoir definitely had some wonderful moments and intriguing characters, but failed to really capture my full attention for the full length of the film. I've also got bones with the ending, but you'll have to decide how you feel about that for yourself.

The Lives of Others
This is one I've really wanted to see for a long time and it didn't disappoint. The cinematography was beautiful--subtle lighting schemes and well placed framing gave the story a wonderful canvas. The actors were really well cast I thought, and projected their characters' nuanced inner struggles masterfully.
I was immediately drawn into the world of the story--East Germany before the Wall fell, and the dangers and tensions that existed in this world. This setting was convincingly brought to life in every painstakingly realistic detail and acting performance on screen. I was touched by what the movie had to say about humanity and the fragility of individuals in a larger system, but also the power of a single individual to effect change.
Overall, this movie was brilliantly written. The story was flawlessly told in a way that was accessible, believable, and artful--everything that a good movie should be.

Goodbye, Lenin
Another one I've been meaning to pick up, and perhaps my favorite out of these four. Films about East Germany in the eighties are two for two. So good!
I actually ended up watching this one twice before returning it, and was glad that I did--I caught a lot more the second time around. The film says a lot about isolation--both national and emotional. It explores the fine lines between white lies, propaganda, and outright deception and the various motives behind each.
I loved the way the movie was framed from Alex's point of view; Goodbye, Lenin would have made a wonderful novel that could have easily been written by Jonathan Safran Foer. The characters were delightfully quirky and original but still maintained a gripping sense of realism.
The art direction was impeccable and manifest beautifully in every detail from the yellow wallpaper in the mother's room, to the distinct clothing and fashions specific to the time and place. The cinematography was sumptuous--rich color palattes and saturated processing produced compositions that were filled with depth and gravity.
Some of the scenes in this film contained a real magic, an almost tangible sense of wonder. I was delighted again and again by the juxtaposition of grief and hope, of love and remorse.
I loved the short scene where Alex and Laura discover the abandoned apartment building--haven't we all wanted to find our own place just open and waiting to be claimed?
Also the scene where Alex's mother wanders out into the street only to be confronted by a giant flying Vladimir Lenin half dissembled and suspended from a Helicopter gliding into the sun--riveting.
Other notable scenes were the revelation at the cabin, Alex's trip with former cosmonaut
Sigmund Jahn the taxi driver, and his meeting with his father. All beautifully written and filmed. Just magical--no other words will do.
I think it's rare to find a movie that encompasses the full range of human emotion, and Goodbye, Lenin shows that this is possible in any language and in any time and under any circumstances. Definitely recommend you pick this one up ASAP.

There Will Be Blood
I was a little bit disheartened after watching all of these foreign films about the beauty and strength of the human spirit to see this distinctly American film about how heartless man can be.
I was totally blown away by Daniel Day Lewis performance as a ruthless turn of the century oil man. I was totally convinced that he WAS Daniel Plainview. Everything from his physicality--the slight limp in his right leg, to his complete ease with the American Western drawl (Lewis is an Irishman), and his no-holds-barred commitment to the emotion of the character sold me on his performance.
I heard raves about Paul Dano's performance as well, and while I like him and thought it was good, I was not blown away. He had only four days to prepare for the role after stepping in as a replacement for another actor and I think it shows in spots. He's wonderfully committed, but I think his choices lacked the depth and nuance that showed through so clearly with Lewis.
The sheer size and magnitude of this picture and the skill with which it was executed are monumental and definitely qualify the picture for the shower of accolades it has received. I was impressed with the not only the epic scope of the film, but also the minute attention to detail that was more than evident in every moment of the movie.
Cinematography was of course beautiful. I especially loved the long tracking shots and carefully planned camera moves that seamlessly blended actors with the environment.
But for all the great skill that was poured into this movie, I didn't love it. It was at times cold and dark and uninviting.
When the credits finally rolled, I was relieved that I did not have to linger any longer in Daniel Plainview's dark and opulent mansion.

All in the Family

Theatre has a younger sister. She's a bastard child named Cinema and she came from a short lived affair between Father Storytelling and that hussy Photography. (they haven't spoken since)
She's beautiful and lusty and manages to seduce all the good artists in town sooner or later, but really she's all about the money and leaves them one after another high and dry in the end.
She's a real bitch but I love her anyway.

They also have a sister named Opera, but no one likes her anymore because she's gotten old and dowdy. She makes brief public appearances every now and again, but most of her lovers are dead and gone. Those few that are left remember her in all her glory and splendour--they carry around wallet-sized black and white portraits of a buxom young ingenue who was the talk of the town. Too bad all her sugar daddies died and left her penniless.
She did have one child though--Musical. Sometimes Musical gets along with her uncle Theatre, but more often than not it's a tenuous relationship. Theatre tried for awhile to adopt Musical, but in the end, she just moved out on her own. Theatre feels like his niece has sold out, and in a lot of ways, she has.

Good riddance I say, that hoebag was trashy anyway.

Sometimes Musical even dresses up like her uncle and pretends to be Theatre when really she's just screwing around pimping washed-up seventies artists catalogs into Broadway whoredoms. (Broadway is in fact a red-light district for Theatre, he rarely goes there because he knows he could get into a lot of trouble...)

Theatre, I know you may have fallen on hard times, but as far as I'm concerned, you are still the man of the house around here.

ps--I'm really sorry they made you change your name from 'Theatre' to 'Theater' when you moved to America. That was a real drag.


"and we breathed the breath of life into the vacuum"
(and the vacuum breathes us in)

anthropomorficus antithicus
--dehumanization of a species.
How are we not ourselves?
How are we not the things we seetouch smelltaste feel want?
Hear (here) ?

How are we not the things that we do
and make
and think? are we?

whenit come
down to it
beanything BUT
selves ?

(what we surround ourselves with)
we become.

My mother once told me to be careful
about whatIwishedfor (because)
"People get what they really want..."

the opposite: assigning no meaning
to thingsIsurroundmySelfwith
no mean ing
to what I want.

the cycle:
we are created
we create
we are defined by what we create

res/as/ins -piration
breath es
has a life of it's own:

we are
(into being)

Breathing Underwater

Last night I had a dream that I could breathe underwater.
I know this because I was sitting at the bottom of a deep, silty bend in the Provo river with some friends watching sharks swim downstream.

Director's Note:

This is my Director's Note from the Rabbit Hole program:

"Becca: So somewhere out there, there’s a version of me—what?—making pancakes?

This play is about a giant elephant named Danny. It’s just as much about what is being said in the room, as what isn’t being said.

Becca: And so this is just the sad version of us?

This is a play about loss. About the holes left in our lives and the ways that they are filled and left empty.

Becca: But there are other versions where everything goes our way.

It’s about family. Relationships. People struggling to connect, to understand one another and themselves.

Becca: And those other versions exist. They’re not hypothetical, they’re actual, real people.

This play is about parallel lives and universes. It’s about wondering what could have been and what will be. It’s about coming to terms with what is.

Becca: Well that’s a nice thought. That somewhere out there I’m having a good time.

Somewhere out there, this play is a comedy. Howie and Becca and Danny live out their lives uninterrupted.

But the play you see tonight is not that play.

This is a play about Howie and Becca Corbett after the death of their son, Danny."

The show opened last night and was well recieved! If you haven't seen it yet, Please come! Two more performances...